Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UC Davis Study Shows Preventable Memory Loss Can Be Distinguished From Alzheimer's Disease

Date:
September 6, 2000
Source:
University Of California, Davis - Medical Center
Summary:
A UC Davis and Department of Veterans' Affairs Health System study published in the September issue of the Annals of Neurology may be an important advance in helping doctors correctly identify the cause of memory problems in elderly patients. The researchers report that the impact of minor strokes deep in the brain can be distinguished from the damage caused by Alzheimer's disease.

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- A UC Davis and Department of Veterans' Affairs Health System study published in the September issue of the Annals of Neurology may be an important advance in helping doctors correctly identify the cause of memory problems in elderly patients. The researchers report that the impact of minor strokes deep in the brain can be distinguished from the damage caused by Alzheimer's disease.

"We found that the brain systems that failed in stroke patients with memory loss were different from those that fail and cause the memory loss of Alzheimer's disease," said Bruce R. Reed, associate director of the UC Davis Alzheimer's Disease Center and lead author of the paper.

If they are alert to what the memory loss of stroke looks like, said Reed, physicians may be able to treat the root cause -- high blood pressure or diabetes -- and thereby prevent strokes.

Diagnosing Alzheimer's disease is difficult enough on its own: it is not obvious where ordinary forgetfulness leaves off and the early stages of Alzheimer's begin. Complicating the diagnosis is evidence accumulated over the past several years, indicating that small strokes deep in the brain may make the memory loss of Alzheimer's worse. These strokes become more common with age, and their role in causing memory problems -- either alone or in conjunction with Alzheimer's -- has been controversial because they often do not occur in "memory" areas of the brain.

Reed and his colleagues studied 15 patients who had suffered small strokes deep in the brain and 15 patients with the diagnosis of mild Alzheimer's disease and compared these patients with similarly aged control subjects. The subjects took memory tests designed to distinguish between different components of memory, including attention to the task and the ability to retrieve memories after longer or shorter test intervals.

The stroke patients were more likely to have problems related to the inability to pay close attention to the task or to remember things after a very short time. Alzheimer's patients, on the other hand, were more likely to have difficulty with retrieving memories after longer intervals.

The researchers also scanned the subjects' brains with positron emission tomography (PET) while the tests were in progress. The scans of stroke patients showed reduced levels of activity in the frontal cortex, a brain area known to be essential for attention. By contrast, the Alzheimer's patients had reduced levels of activity in brain areas (such as the temporal lobe and hippocampus) known to be involved in the coding and storage of memories.

"This shows that it's not simply that stroke pushes people with a little Alzheimer's disease over some sort of threshold for memory loss," said Reed. "The memory loss of deep stroke is more closely related to failures of attention and this makes sense considering the brain circuits that are usually affected by deep strokes. This mechanism had been suspected before, but our data show this very clearly for the first time."

The results point out the importance of being alert for mild memory loss in elderly patients, Reed said. "These problems may not reflect Alzheimer's disease and so it's all the more important to look for and to treat any risk factors for cerebrovascular disease."

This research was supported in part by grants from the National Institute on Aging, the California Department of Health Services Alzheimer's Disease program and the Northern California Veteran Affairs System of Clinics.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California, Davis - Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California, Davis - Medical Center. "UC Davis Study Shows Preventable Memory Loss Can Be Distinguished From Alzheimer's Disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 September 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000904122406.htm>.
University Of California, Davis - Medical Center. (2000, September 6). UC Davis Study Shows Preventable Memory Loss Can Be Distinguished From Alzheimer's Disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000904122406.htm
University Of California, Davis - Medical Center. "UC Davis Study Shows Preventable Memory Loss Can Be Distinguished From Alzheimer's Disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000904122406.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins